The instruction manual is probably the most crucial yet most undermined component that is associated with a product. When was the last time you read a user manual? Must have been at times when you did not have any clue about what went wrong with a device or software! So, this is why an instruction manual plays a huge role, especially for the consumer.
In addition to the information regarding the effective use of a particular product or service, instruction manuals act as a vital help for troubleshooting problems. Did you ever know what goes into making the perfect instruction manual? Proceed reading further in this discussion to find out the different pointers that help in creating content for manuals that can be suited to the requirements of users!
1) Anticipate the needs and behavior of users:
First of all, it is crucial to understand the users who will be reading the manuals. Thinking like a user would help in preparing content that is needed by users. Understanding the users would involve a perception of the information known to users, their background, and the knowledge they have regarding the product.
Another promising measure, in this case, could be watching users closely and carefully when utilizing the product or service. This can help in creating user manuals with a clear impression of the essential requirements of the users, their approach to each task and the possible methods that they can use for unprecedented tasks.
2) Emphasizing the reader as the lead:
Every instruction manual should always emphasize on the reader. Information that would involve the reader, such as instructions should be associated with active voice alongside the use of “you.” The notion of speaking directly to the reader in the instruction manuals can render positive outcomes such as engaging readers in the document and establishing a sense of relevancy in the content to the reader.
The focus on the reader is also essential to reinforce the importance of the information in the manual for the reader alongside supporting the reduction of passive voice in the manual’s content. The use of “you” in the manual content helps in clarifying that the reader is the person responsible for conducting a particular action.
3) Legally and professionally compliant:
The documentation of instruction manuals would have to be compliant with legal and professional standards. For example, the rules for spelling a particular word, the punctuation of sentences, organizing information, referring to an object, and creating a page layout should be followed while creating an instruction manual.
Professionally compliant instruction manuals are easy to understand because readers do not have to focus on decoding the information mentioned in the manual. Legal compliance is also mandatory since it helps in safeguarding intellectual property and proprietary information related to the product, service, or the organization.
4) Maintaining clarity of instructions:
The final aspect that can play a significant part in the creation of an effective user manual is the clarity of instructions in the manual. Readers would not have sufficient time to read an instruction manual, and this factor calls for crisp and clear instructions in the manual. So, the instructions should be presented in the form of bullet points and imperative words such as “Enter,” “Select,” or “Click” can work effectively for improving the clarity of the instructions.